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Minnesota humanitarian dies while working disaster response after Haiti earthquake

The 48-year-old woman was rushed by air to Miami.
Haiti earthquake 2010

Destruction in Haiti from the 2010 earthquake. 

A Minnesota native died unexpectedly while working with a U.S. disaster response team in Haiti following the island nation's devastating earthquake.

Tresja Denysenko, 48, is described by the USAID's Disaster Assistance Response Team as a "tireless disaster response expert" with the agency's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance." 

Her death was announced Aug. 19, though details of how she died were not released. A priest, however, in a Facebook post, said Denysenko "suffered a cerebral hemorrhage" Wednesday night. She was then airlifted to Miami where she was pronounced dead. 

"Originally from Minnesota, Tresja is survived by her husband and daughter, as well as her mother and stepfather," the USAID announced. "She is remembered as a beloved wife, mother, daughter, and dear friend. Tresja’s kindness and heartfelt passion for providing humanitarian assistance and improving the lives of people in need touched many communities around the world and here at home."

Among the numerous disasters she assisted at in the past 16 years are the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the West Africa Ebola outbreak, the Venezuela regional crisis, and the conflicts in South Sudan and the Tigray region of Ethiopia. 

"In all of her postings, she played a critical role in providing aid to the world’s most deprived and marginalized people," USAID said. "Tresja was also an inspiring mentor, training staff across the Bureau on how to deliver aid quickly and appropriately to save lives in some of the world’s most complex and dire humanitarian crises."

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The death toll in Haiti from the August 14 7.2-magnitude earthquake has surpassed 2,100, in addition to 12,000+ injured and more than 300 still missing. Haitian officials estimate there are around 600,000 people in need of assistance, while an estimated 500,000 children have limited or no access to food, safe water or shelter. 

In January 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near Haiti capital Port-au-Prince, killing around 250,000 people and injuring at least 300,000 others. 

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